Written by Administrator
June 19th, 2010 at 4:35 am
Anyone who listens to John and Ken on the Los Angeles-based radio station KFI 640 may be left with the impression that all environmentally friendly ideas are costly, with little or no positive effect on the environment. From depletion of the ozone and global warming to Cap and Trade and diesel emissions, environmental concerns are controversial and often seem to be based on less-than-sound scientific data and hypothesis. The environmental do-gooders force upon us an extensive array of rules and regulations with little concern for economic consequences or our ability to implement stringent standards without readily available technology or yet-to-be-made scientific discovery.
Most people do not realize how much we are impacted by environmental regulatory agencies. One of the most powerful in southern California is the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which is not only charged with regulating smoke stacks at the factories of high-polluting industries and the emissions from our automobiles, but also involves itself in almost every aspect of our daily lives, from the cost of our dry cleaning to our romantic interludes (think a cozy dinner at a nice restaurant or cuddling up in front of the fire place on a cool evening).
But that is hardly the extent of environmental regulation. In 1989, the California State Legislature passed AB 939, which created the California Integrated Waste Management Board and set up waste diversion goals for all cities and counties in the state. This bill mandated that local jurisdictions meet solid waste diversion goals of 25 percent by 1995 and 50 percent by 2000. Here we are 21 years later and some jurisdictions have yet to meet these goals and face possible sanction.
We are all familiar with many of the programs enacted by jurisdictions to comply with AB 939. Whether we participate in curbside recycling with blue-, green-, and brown-coded trash barrels or do our part by separating our aluminum, glass, plastic and newsprint and hauling it to a recycling facility ourselves for a little extra pocket change, recycling has become a routine part of the California lifestyle.
However, most of us likely do not pay attention to another recycling component of our daily lives that our government cares about a lot, and that is what we flush down the toilet. Yep, that’s right. These agencies not only monitor and regulate our romance but our bathroom habits as well.
Most of us don’t give a second thought to what happens once we press that lever and hear the whoosh of water sending waste to distant places. If our residence is hooked up to a municipal sewer system, that distant place is a wastewater treatment plant. And this is where the science of it all gets interesting.
Technology has developed to the point that solid organic waste can now be separated from all the other not-so-organic items people flush, such as pharmaceuticals, latex, and plastics. And as has gone on for centuries, captured solid organic waste is in turned used to fertilize plants thus completing the circle of life—Mother Nature as she was meant to be.
In modern terminology, organic waste separated and treated at a wastewater treatment plant is known as “biosolids.” The jurisdictions that operate wastewater treatment centers then must dispose of the biosolids, either by sending them to a landfill, which reduces their compliance with the 50-percent diversion requirement, or by finding another use.
By the time biosolids reach the disposal stage, they are harmless as they have been tested and filtered for all substances that could damage the environment. As a means of diversion, those jurisdictions where it is cost-effective ship their biosolids directly to farmers where they are used to provide natural fertilizer for crops. But biosolids are missing one important ingredient that would make them the perfectly complete fertilizer and that ingredient is carbon.
Another component in the recycling process at landfills is green waste, i.e., tree limbs, grass, leaves. If this waste can also be eliminated from the landfill, then jurisdictions are closer to meeting their diversion mandates. Most of us know the benefits of mulching. Some of us have mulching lawnmowers or have even started our own compost piles. Mulch is also an excellent natural fertilizer as it contains nitrogen, the one key ingredient missing in biosolids, but does not have the other key ingredient, carbon, which is found in biosolids. So when green waste is mixed with biosolids, the perfect and complete fertilizer is created.
And this is where companies such as Nursery Products LLC come in. Creating the perfect and complete fertilizer is what Nursery Products LLC is all about. Local jurisdictions are able to dispose of their biosolids at a reduced cost to the taxpayers, landfills are able to find a home for their green waste, and local farmers have an inexpensive source of safe organic fertilizer. As I said in my introductory article, this process is a win-win-win solution for all involved.
Road to site
But environmentally sound processes that protect one resource often come at a cost to other resources. Is this project any different? Well, yes it is. Here are some interesting facts about the project:
* The Nursery Products compost site will be off of the electrical grid completely. They are 100 percent sustainable with their own solar-powered system that will run their offices and operations.
* The Nursery Products site will accept all biosolids that are currently hauled to either Kern County or Arizona. By opening locally, truck traffic will be reduced by about 200 miles per truck trip. That leads to a reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 3,000 pounds per day!
* The Nursery Products compost site is the most regulated compost site in the United States. Even though the depth down to groundwater is over 375 feet, the site design includes three monitoring wells, two lined leachate ponds, and vadose zone monitoring. Leachate at the site would take over 1,900 years to reach groundwater.
* The site is designed to withstand the 1,000 year flood. There is no other windrow compost site in the United States that is designed to withstand the 1,000-year flood. Other compost sites in California are designed to withstand a 25-year flood.
* The site is close to agricultural producers who badly need natural compost instead of buying expensive, hydrocarbon- based fertilizers. Nursery Products has sold over 300,000 cubic yards of compost, saving farmers a significant amount of money.
Intersection of Highway 58 and Helendale Road – Facility will be located one mile down dirt road
So why is there a problem? A lot of myths and outright lies have been put forth by those opposing the project for their own selfish desires. The site is located almost in the middle of nowhere, one mile off of Highway 58 and eight miles west of Hinkley, California.
The residents of Hinkley were victimized once by PG&E. And now we have influences from outside San Bernardino County capitalizing on that situation to cause hysteria within the community; hysteria that defies science, logic, common sense, and verifiable facts. In part two we will begin to examine the tactics and arguments used by those attempting to stop this project and the significant financial gain they have enjoyed by manipulating the citizens of Hinkley into believing what is bad is good and what is good is bad.